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Orange County Beach Restaurant Becomes First to Defy California’s Stay at Home Order

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Nomads Canteen in San Clemente was packed with non-mask-wearing bar patrons on Saturday

A quiet, cloudy beachside downtown.
San Clemente
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

An Orange County restaurant reopened its dining room and patio over the weekend, the becoming among the first businesses in Southern California to defy California governor Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order. The San Clemente eatery, named Nomads Canteen, reopened its patio and dining room over the weekend and saw throngs of customers eager to get inside, reports NBCLA.

The Orange County Register, which also tracked the opening, says that “dozens of diners” congregated at the restaurant, some sitting on the patio drinking Corona beer without face masks. Owner Jeff Gourley told the Register that he had informed county officials that he would be reopening, and that he has not yet incurred fines or any other issues, though the Orange County Health Care Agency did confirm that they informed Gourley he is operating in violation of a state mandate, and that his permits could be suspended.

Orange County has become a vocal flashpoint for the state, as protesters in places like San Clemente and Huntington Beach demand a reopening of the economy. Two weekends ago, a reported 40,000 people also flocked to the county’s beaches, many from nearby Los Angeles, ultimately drawing the ire of Newsom in one of his statewide addresses. The state decided to shut down Orange County’s beaches as a result.

There’s still no timetable for Los Angeles (city or county) or greater Southern California to reopen its restaurant dining rooms, though Newsom has said an update is potentially days, or a couple of weeks, away. Up in far Northern California, rural Modoc County — where there have been zero coronavirus cases — began defying Newsom’s stay at home order last week, reopening businesses for the county’s 9,000 residents. Yuba County and Sutter County are set to do the same, beginning today.